Minister Rishworth interview on ABC News Radio with Scott Wales


Topics: the National Disability Data Asset

SCOTT WALES, HOST: We're joined now by the Federal Social Services Minister, Amanda Rishworth. Amanda, welcome to News Radio.


SCOTT WALES: What difference will this make to Australians living with a disability?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: This was a real game changer in terms of supporting people living with a disability. This has actually been something people with a disability have been calling for because they often fall through the cracks of different service systems state, federal and education, health. So, what this data asset will do is, in a de-identified way, be able to map the experiences of people with a disability through the justice system, through the education system, really giving us evidence of where the gaps are and what needs to be changed to improve their lives. So, this is a pretty ground-breaking kind of initiative, but something that is really designed to back up evidence to improve the lives of people with disability.

SCOTT WALES: So, does this sort of sit within as a new function within the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: No, this will be a new data asset that exists separately. It will be co-governed by states, territories and the Commonwealth. And, importantly, with people with disability. It's important to remember that while there is over 600,000 people in the NDIS, 4.4 million Australians actually identify living with disability. So, while the NDIS service system is such an important part, understanding that it is much more than this. It is about tracking someone with a disabilities’ experience through the justice system, through the education system, through mainstream systems as well, and understanding how they interact with disability specific services and where the gaps are.

SCOTT WALES: Okay, so is it about trying to help people maybe more easily identify whether, for example, they might qualify for assistance under that broader disability scheme?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: It is about understanding where our systems fail. So, where are our education systems failing people with disability and linking that to demonstrating if our education system fails, the employment system for people with disability also fails and learning what needs to change. So, it is really about not just qualification, it is about ensuring that our systems are fit for purpose, that people with disability can go to school, they can get the education they need, they have the opportunity to go to university and get a job. We know that is not happening for many people with disability. This will give us a much better understanding of why that's happening and what needs to change.

SCOTT WALES: So, have you had much feedback or was there sort of consultation with disability providers and advocates through the development of this?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Disability advocates have been calling on something like this for a long time. There has been a lot of discussion around what are the benefits of a disability data asset. Of course, ensuring that this is safe from cyberattacks and all the rest is really important and front of mind. But the important thing is that not only in the design have people with disability been involved, but they will be part of the co-governance of this data asset going forward. And that's really important. They'll sit alongside states and territories with overseeing this data asset and what benefits it can bring.

SCOTT WALES: And in terms of the funding, is the idea that this is essentially a co-production between the states and the Commonwealth.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: At the moment it has been the Commonwealth Government that has put up the significant amount of funding. It is envisaged the states and territories will contribute to the maintenance. But importantly, the agreement struck between the states and the Commonwealth is around data sharing. So, there's so many times where, whether you're in the Commonwealth or the states, that people say, well, we just don't have that information because it's held by a different level of government. So, this really heralds a new way of state and territory and Commonwealth governments working better together as well, and sharing that data, which is so important to understanding the lives of people with disabilities.

SCOTT WALES: So, trying to remove some of that, I guess, administrative duplication between different jurisdictions?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Absolutely, and linking it together. So, understanding the person's experience in both the Commonwealth agencies as well as the states and territories, and across departments – justice, education, employment, right across the whole gamut of departments – often there isn't data sharing there as well. This will overcome that.

SCOTT WALES: And you did mention briefly the issue of data security. There have, of course, been some major data breaches in Australia in the past twelve months. How confident can people be that this data asset will be secure in that respect?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We will be taking absolutely the most stringent protections when it comes to the holding of this data. It will be de-identified. So, it's not like people, as we've seen in the past, their driver's licence being held, this will be de-identified, but nevertheless, this is an important resource and we will be taking all protections necessary to protect the data.

SCOTT WALES: Amanda Rishworth, thank you for your time this morning.